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Thursday, 4 April 1946

Dr EVATT (BARTON, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Attorney-General) - The Legal Service Bureau was established by the Commonwealth in 1942 on my recommendation. It has branches in every State, including Queensland, and recently we established a branchin Northern Queensland. A great many service men and women make use of the facilities afforded by the bureau, and now there is statutory warrant for it in the Re-establishment and Employment Act. The question arose whether officers of the bureaushould assist appellants to conduct their eases before repatriation tribunals, and the issue had to be settled differently in different States. The practice has grown up in New South Wales of giving assistance in certain test cases. Thus, the case for the serviceman would be put by the bureau, although the case against the soldier would necessarily be put by the Repatriation Department. Honorable members will see that such a situation might sometimes be embarrassing, because one opinion on the case would be advanced by one government department, while an opposing opinion would be advanced by another department. An arrangement was made with the returned servicemen's organization, that in some States the bureau would give advice on repatriation matters, and even conduct appeals in certain circumstances. I shall look into the matter in order to set; whether the honorable member's objective can be attained, namely, that the bureau should assist service men and women in regard to repatriation matters, as well as in regard to the many other matters dealt with every clay by the bureau. In New South Wales alone, free legal service has already been given to 20,000 persons.

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